Billy Payne is stepping down as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
William Porter Payne will officially hand the reigns of ANGC and the Masters Tournament over to Fred Ridley on October 16. Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and USGA president, currently chairs the competition committee.
The Masters Twitter account (!) announced the news:
“The privilege I experienced serving as chairman of Augusta National and the Masters was far greater than I could have ever imagined,” Payne said in a release. “Just as nothing can prepare you for the unique responsibilities and important decisions that come with this position, it is equally impossible to anticipate the many joys and, most importantly, the wonderful friendships that are the ultimate reward of service.”
“This honor, however, is too great for one person to claim as their own for too long a period of time. I retire knowing it is simply the right thing to do – and at the right moment – to open the door and invite someone new to be called upon to lead, bring forth new ideas and craft a new vision that will honor our Founders and serve the game of golf for many years to come.”
“I am now proud to call upon my good friend Fred Ridley to lead Augusta National and the Masters to a future that I am confident will hold new promise, while always being faithful to the principles of Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. Fred will be an excellent chairman who will serve with my complete and enthusiastic support.”
Payne, who turns 70 on October 13, has been the chair of Augusta National for the past 11 years and has overseen the Masters transition into the Web 2.0 world.
The former head of the Atlanta Olympic Games, Payne joined Augusta National in 1997. He was appointed chairman in 2006.
His effort to admit women as members to the venerable club, which culminated in the 2012 admission of Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, will be remembered along side his other efforts to move Augusta forward. An example of the latter: Bringing the Drive, Chip and Putt finals to Augusta National, starting in 2014.
Payne has suffered from back issues and had a significant surgery in 2016. An anonymous source told USA Today that health issues aren’t the motivating factor in the chairman stepping down, but rather he feels it’s time to move on.
“This has been the greatest experience of my life.” — Chairman Billy Payne looks back with gratitude on his tenure over the past 11 years. pic.twitter.com/hPhpsLEdwX
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) August 23, 2017